13July2020

Should You, Would You, Take on a Persona?

Did You Have To Become Someone Else In Order To Get The Job Done?

Have you ever taken on a persona to get your work done or to help you get through challenging situations? Perhaps you are in that alternate persona right now. And for the sake of this article, let’s use “persona” and “alter-ego” as meaning the same thing. But what is a persona? It’s an alternate personality that can help you step out of yourself, if your usual self can’t get the job done effectively. I suspect that introverts are confronted with this dilemma more often than not.

Are You Disguising Yourself

Have you ever met someone in person whom you are impressed by how nice they are but when you see them in another setting, e.g., a manager, a speaker, or in a group, they seem like a different person.  They actually may not seem nice at all. Or how about this : You’ve made a harsh judgement about someone and another person who knows them better says, “you have to get to know him/her – I think you’ll like them better”?  Sound familiar? This happens more often than we realize and psychologists say most of us adopt different personas depending on whether we’re at home or at work. Of the people I know, there are far less who are the same person at work than they are at home or with friends. In writing this article, the findings pushed me into some realizations – for the most part, it’s quite common to have personas, and we’ve become numb to noticing it.

We are all so accustomed to disguising ourselves to others, that in the end, we become disguised to ourselves.
Francois de La Rochefoucauld
French author of maxims and memoirs

While this quote isn’t something that I’m 100% on (I don’t believe it applies to everyone), there’s a truth in “disguising” that I like. I’ve witnessed it in coaching as people have their own stories they tell themselves and saboteurs that bring them into the murky land of disguise.

What You Already Know

You may have heard your friends talk about a relationship or even your own current or past relationship to be far different from when it started. They may say, “he’s not the same person I first met.” It could be that as you get deeper in a relationship, trust increases, observations of each other’s traits are shared, and a need for a persona, doesn’t need to be “on stage” as much anymore. So maybe they aren’t the same persona that made an impression from the start and just showing more of themselves of who they are – and that’s good! But not everyone uses a persona and can also just evolve or grow by just being themselves – which would also make for a different person as from the start. For those taking on a persona, this is where it’s noticeable that they used it in order to get through situations and possibly the persona acts as a constant supportive role.

Personas Are Used for Personal Evolutions and Revolutions

I’ve always been on the fence to encourage coaching clients to take on a persona, yet in Co-Active methodology, we use Leader Within and Advocates which can help you enhance a persona. We even ask you to embody what it feels like to be this person – it’s very effective too! To share with you mine, I have three:

  • Malcolm X : Whom I tap into to be evocative, deliberate, brave, articulate and truthful
  • Richard Branson : Whom I tap into to take chances, enjoy life and the moments we share
  • Iron Man : (Yes, I know this isn’t a real person), and I don’t mean Tony Stark – I mean Iron Man  : Tony Stark + armour and technology. He is the ultimate Leader Within for me and I tap into him because of his smarts and use of technology, does things for the greater good of mankind, works as a team and solo, and has a dry sense of humour.

Is This Something That Can Help You?

If you haven’t consciously taken on a persona and you see that having one is necessary to get through challenging things in your life, here are a few important questions to ask yourself :

Musicians Who Have Used Personas

Here are some musicians who have named their personas/alter egos and what purpose they serve:

  • David BowieZiggy Stardust : A concept character who believes he is a prophet from space, here to save the world.
    • PURPOSE : To shake-up the music world and not just have a “‘What you see is what you get.” approach to music. He wanted to try to devise something different, like a musical where the artist onstage plays a part.”
  • Christina Aguilera → Xtina : Full-on sexy-dirty, raven-haired, nick tattooed alter ego.
    • PURPOSE : Aguilera was looking to distance herself from her former Disney alum and thus, Xtina was born and was the mechanism to make that happen.
  • Justin Bieber → Shawty Mane : An eye-glasses wearing rapper alter ego.
    • PURPOSE : The Biebs wanted to prove he had skills in the rap game and named his alter ego after the two things he’s arguably best known for, his stature and his hair mop. He donned Urkel-type glasses while helpfully pointing out to listeners,”I’m white.” 
  • Jennifer Lopez (J-Lo) → Lola : A sexy, re-emergence persona.
    • PURPOSE : Lopez used Lola like a sexy fashion accessory when coming off an extended wedding/pregnancy hiatus from the music community and called on “Lola” for her welcome back single. 
  • Beyoncé Knowles →  Sasha Fierce : Also the name of an album, a bold and sexy character.
    • PURPOSE : A mechanism Beyoncé used to safely and publicly experiment with performances of her sexuality while keeping her ladylike integrity intact.  In 2010 Beyoncé ended using Sasha Fierce and feels there is no longer a need for her.

What’s your alternate persona? Create one here. For the sake of this article, mine is Brock Hanover. PURPOSE : A persona that pushes me to get out these BLOGs in time.

Chris Escobar is an Introvert Coach and also helps teams become more efficient. He resides in San Jose California with his amazing wife Boom Boom, two kick-ass teenagers: Zolie and Evanusky, and sassy Bichon, Lola.

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